Today’s new business owners are all too familiar with Google its use and how to use it and, for the most part, understand the benefits of appearing on the first page of Google.

On the other hand, not that many know precisely how to go about setting themselves up to not only rank but have the right set-up and site architecture to move up the rankings organically.

SEO, although another common and well-known phrase to many new business owners, knowing how to implement, use and succeed with SEO is another.

Your two primary tools in your hand are your website and a well-balanced and executed SEO strategy in collaboration with an SEO company.

Using data-driven SEO to enhance your website’s rankings is the quickest and most effective plan to achieve long-term marketing success.

Ahrefsis a commonly known SEO analytical website, and they conducted a study on the length of time it takes for a new web page to get to the top rankings on Google.

They uncovered that most sites ranking on page 1 of Google were over two years old and, for the most part, boasted high Domain Rating (RD).

Domain Rating is what Google perceives as showing the site’s strength, with a solid backlink profile. These sites perform better than their lower-rated counterparts.

Moreover, they also discovered that lower search volume keywords ranked faster as they have less competition from more prominent companies with larger marketing budgets. These are strategies that an SEO agency in this day and age should initially advise you of.

It is not wise to throw money at a common search term, especially if it has thousands of views a month, and you are up against huge companies with deep pockets.

The Best Way to Rank your Website Online

In this article, I’ll look to document their findings. I’m working off what Ahrefs brought to the table as they conducted a specific test.

How Old are the Pages with Top Ranking?

As mentioned above, they first looked to determine how old the top-ranked pages on Google were.

So the test was taking 2 million keywords at random, pulling data from the top 10 ranking pages on each one.

Here’s what they found:

The graph clearly shows that the median top 10 rankings are more than two years old. If you study the chart, it is apparent that the number one ranking is more towards three years old.

A staggering fact is that only 22 per cent of pages are currently in the top 10 are less than one-year-old. (See below)

After processing this data, Ahrefs moved swiftly to look at the percentage of pages in a ranking position that are less than one-year-old.

Here’s what they found:

It just goes to show how dominated the SERPs are with older pages.

How long will it take for my web pages to rank on Google?

So having established a solid basis of the average age of sites and pages dominating the top 10 positions on Google, they moved on to study new websites that their crawlers actively monitored only a year ago at inception.

Again 2 million pages were selected and subsequently tracked each page and its position history for every ranking keyword it has achieved.

Here are the findings:

Of all the studied pages ranking in the top 10, only 5.7% have one keyword rank within one year.

As touched upon above, high Domain Rating (DR) sites well outperform the site with a lower DR.

Ahrefs went on to closer inspection of the 5.7 percent’s pages to assess how quickly they rose onto the first page of Google.

The vast majority managed to reach their objective between 61 and 182 days.

It is important to remember that the graph represents only 5.7%, not the remaining percentage that we cannot achieve in the same time frame.

They then calculated the monthly search volume of each of their keywords.

A very chastening statistic for any new business owner out there is that only 0.3% of top 10 ranked pages with high volume keywords were ranked in the first year.

I think Ahrefs came to a point where they could safely refer to the 5.7% as the ‘lucky’pages as they go against the statistical grain of the SERPs.

They studied the ‘lucky’ pages to establish the exact search volume of each page to break it down.

The study clearly shows that low-volume keywords rank much faster than their counterparts.

Always bear in mind these statistics are taken only from the ‘lucky’ 5.7% of the top10 results within 365 days as the vast majority of other pages do not perform well.

Phase 1. SEO Strategy for higher rankings

So we get to a point in this article where we have established that lower volume keywords are a must for any new website to get some traction on the SERPs.

Armed with this precise information, we need to direct our attention to getting the fundamentals right and starting to rank.

For a new or existing site with a weak backlink profile, the beginning is to create detailed, informative, engaging content targeting keywords within your niche with low competition and search volumes.

There are many online tools to help, some FREE such as Google Analytics, or you can pay for SEMrush or MOZ along with Ahrefs.

However, in this competitive market that has seen the pandemic intensify internet usage like never before, it is a lot to ask SME’s with a limited staff to be successful and reach the top 10 positions within the first two years.

Hiring in-house digital marketing and SEO staff is costly and time-consuming.

With the time and money spent on advertising, interviewing, hiring, contracts and finally tax, more and more start-ups and SME’s are looking towards a competent, established SEO agency that include web services as one to get the ball rolling.

Site architecture and solid link building are a must;this is where experience comes to the fore.

The website’s backlink profile starts with links to the homepage then creates topic clusters.

Knowing you need low search volume keywords leads to writing about low competition topics.

Phase 2: Use Low-Volume Modifier or Long-Tail Keywords

To an outsider that hadn’t seen Ahrefs statistical data above, this would sound like marketing suicide, but there is more than a method to the madness.

Start by generating keyword ideas and consider modifier keywords (the equivalent of an add-on to a basic keyword), for example:

  • Top
  • Buy
  • Best
  • With
  • In

Ahrefshave a fundamentally sound Keyword Explorer to explore using your seed keyword. Or you can use Google Analytics and Google’s Keyword Planner. 

Here use the tools, or if you are considering an SEO agency, they will run a keyword report as part of their evaluation before giving you a proposal.

Most tools will have a keyword difficulty rating and an approximate monthly search statistic.

As a rule-of-thumb, a start-up company or an SME doesn’t want the majority of starting keywords to have over 1000 searches a month, especially if the majority of top positions are taken up by companies you know to be considerably larger than your own.

Low-search-volume keywords play a vital role in your SEO strategy:

  • Long-Tail Keywords. You may have heard of them but don’t necessarily know their use in a short and long-term strategy. To start with, they are more specific and are more targeted, and are easier to convert. They came relevant after short-tail keywords. They still tend to be lower volume but pertinent to your potential audience.
  • The More Prominent Companies Ignore Them. Yes, that’s true, but it doesn’t mean that the topics relating to these keywords aren’t highly relevant to your target market and existing audience. You could find the more prominent companies don’t target them at all.
  • They Build Interest. If you are in a relatively small niche, it allows you to flood this with information and create interest around it, gaining a loyal following.
  • Diversification. Suppose you allocate a good percentage at the start to low-volume keywords. In that case, you can target more for your budget, especially using an SEO company to multiply potential traffic and inbound leads.
  • Building your Brand. Although you won’t be confronted with thousands of enquiries per month, the odds of your ranking high among the smaller volume of searches can be equally effective for an SME. Due to low competition, the users searching have a higher chance of conversion than a customer with hundreds of other avenues at the click of a button.
  • A cumulative Effect. Several studies have indicated that between 60-70% of online searches consist of long-tail keywords. Breaking that down is good news, as only 30-40% of searches are on high-volume popular search terms, which the big firms concentrate on. Interestingly, a common denominator across several industries is that a long-tail keyword with low volume can increase search interest if you add low-volume keywords.

Simple Math

If you think about a search term that has 300 searches a month, within one year, if you can position yourself even at the lower end of page 1 on Google to take only a 10 per cent portion of those enquiries, that’s 30 possibilities of a sale, hiring your services or an online purchase.

If you or your staff have to verbally or physically sell your products/services and can only close 20% of those enquiries or 20% buy online, there are already 6 new customers per month. Then all you need is to nurture, keep them informed and look for future referrals or market to (not aggressively) for potential return business.

If you achieve this over five low-volume keywords with 300 searches per months you’ve got 150 potentials per month within the first year.

If you balance out at the start 50% of your targeted keywords to be low volume search, then split the other 50% between medium and high competition keywords, that’s a good spread for 2022.


I hope this article gives you an inside into cold hard facts and prepare you for the work ahead but also make you think twice about some statements from SEO specialists that after reading this, ‘May sound a little bit too good to be true.’ Ahrefs blew the case wide open with their market test, so it leaves people new to the market under no illusions about what is ahead in the first year of a new website trying to work its way up the Google ladder. With this in mind, if you are looking to hire an SEO agency, beware of the top 10 ranking on Google them saying are achievable in three months if they are targeting competitive keywords.

Make sure you start or pick up in 2022 using a less searched but ultimately rewarding strategy.

Good Luck.

About the Author


Lancey Clemons is an experienced tech writer, digital marketer and content specialist. He has extensive SEO knowledge having managed an SEO technical supportteam . In his free time, he likes to study new digital innovations, with a keen interest in crypto tech and blockchain.